1 John 4:10 // In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Here John gives a succinct and profound definition for what is at the heart of true love. He points his finger in a particular direction. “In this is love,” he says. But before saying what it is, he tells us what it is not. True love, pure love, love as it actually is, does not originate in the hearts of men. "Not that we have loved God." Human love is never original, says John, for it is supplied from a source of divine origin. So try as we might to define love according to our own human experiences and efforts, John says we must open up heaven’s dictionary if we wish to behold love in its genuine state.

And so John pulls the divine dictionary from the shelf, turns to the proper page, and puts his finger on the word love. “In this,” he says. And what is written there? It is God's heart for his people expressed through the sending of his Son. "God loved us and sent his Son." To look upon Jesus is to see the Father’s heart and to see the Father’s heart is to behold the wellspring of true love.

Well how is it that the sending of his Son expresses divine and authentic love? It is that his love pursues the loveless. “Not that we have loved God.” The expression of his love was not calculated according to those he sought because it sprung forth from his very own heart. Love, therefore, says John, cannot be understood until we realize it is a thing we must first receive. We must see its stream flowing down from the heart of heaven in Christ, pursuing us in our cold and loveless state.

Yet we may also say that as we look at his Son, we see that true love is God providing for the sinner. Not only does Jesus enter a loveless world, but this loveless world despised and rejected him all the way to the cross. Yet the love of God triumphed, for God in his infinite wisdom and power took that which was the grossest display of human lovelessness and turned it to the grandest exhibition of his love. So behold the Son whom he sent, beloved. For in this is love, God in Christ pursuing and providing for the loveless, whom he loves.